How did Islam reach this part of Asia ?

Set in between India and China, the Malay coasts were a perfect connecting point for merchants of those two empires. Around the 1st century, the Indian influence became preponderant, local kings and populations converted to hinduism and buddhism.
Ten centuries later, when a local kingdom – Sri Vijaya – expended to Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, the South India armies reacted and occupied the Malay Peninsula.
The power of the buddhist maharajas will not be undermined before the 15th century, by the spread of islam…

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Islam came to the Malay archipelago via Arab and Indian traders in the 13th century.
It arrived in the region gradually, and became the religion of the elite before it spread to the commoners.

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The port of Malacca – on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula – was founded in 1402 by by Parameswara, a Srivijaya Prince.
A theory assesses that Parameswara became a Muslim when he married a Princess of Pasai (a sultanate on the North of Sumatra, Indonesia) and he took the fashionable Persian title “Shah”, calling himself Iskandar Shah.

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Within a few years of its establishment, Malacca officially adopted Islam. Due to the fact Malacca was under a Muslim Prince, the conversion of Malays to Islam accelerated in the 15th century. The political power of the Malaccan Sultanate helped Islam’s rapid spread through the archipelago. Malacca was an important commercial centre during this time, attracting trade from around the region.

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By the start of the 16th century, with Malaccan Sultanate in the Malay peninsula and parts of Sumatra, the Sultanate of Demak in Java, and other kingdoms around the Malay archipelago increasingly converting to Islam, it had become the dominant religion among Malays.
It reached as far as the modern-day Philippines, leaving Bali  as an isolated outpost of Hinduism.

islam why 1

Malacca’s reign lasted little more than a century, but during this time became the established centre of Malay culture. Most future Malay states originated from this period. Malacca became a cultural centre, creating the matrix of the modern Malay culture: a blend of indigenous Malay and imported Indian, Chinese and Islamic elements.

Diversity will remain over centuries, as I will show tomorrow…

 

A Kiwi, is a kiwi, is a kiwi

“Une rose, est une rose, est une rose”, disait Duchamp… But what about kiwis ?

KiwiX3

Here in New Zealand, a kiwi can be three different things.

Kiwi animal 2Kiwis can be nice little birds. They don’t fly. Their eggs are almost as big as their own body, can you believe it ?
Unfortunately, that far, the only one i’ve seen was in a protected shelter because – as we could expect it – the specie is at threat. Kiwi are shy and usually nocturnal, nocturnal habits being a result of habitat intrusion by predators, including humans, during the day. Cute, isn’t it ?
They were first threatened by deforestation, then by other human invasion, and now but other mammalian predators, such as dogs. Every time I’ve seen a yellow sign “Warning, kiwis”, it was followed with a blue sign “Dogs forbidden”.

Kiwi Fruit 2
Kiwis are also fruits, everyone know that. But did you know that Te Puke, on the Coromandel Coast, North New Zealand, is the worldwide capital city of kiwis ? 70% of kiwi production is in Italy, New Zealand, and Chile !
All New Zealand’ kiwifruits are now marketed under the brand-name label Zespri… I’m just saying, in case you would like to support the NZ economy.
By the way, the kiwi fruit can also be called Chinese gooseberry.

Kiwi humain 2
The colloquial demonym for New Zealanders. They are 4.5 million. Not much for a country that is 268 680 km2 (france is 552 000 km2). Polynesians settled in New Zealand during the 14th century, developing a distinctive Maori culture, and Europeans started to migrate at the end of the 17th century.
Of course, to me the country seems empty, and it’s not gonna get any better, as many kiwis leave the country because of the weak economy… As a matter of fact, I’ve met many of them in Australia. A truck driver, for instance, told me he had left NZ to make more money, that we would probably work like crazy for the five next years, them by a house and settle… “Something I couldn’t think of in y country”, did he say…

Are you getting confused ?kiwi animal and fruit

Benares religious ceremonies, explanations

Ceremonie 1

Benares – In West Bengal and nowadays called Varanasi – is to Hindus what Mecca is to muslims, Jerusalem to Jews: THE holly city. The city is often referred to as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

According to archeologists, it was founded 12 centuries before Christ. According to the legend, it was founded by Shiva. for some reason (too long to explain), the Ganga river was encapsulated in Shiva’s hair, which makes the river so sacred.

Hommes en orange

Over 50,000 Brahmins live in Varanasi, providing religious services to the masses.

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Every evening, an offering ceremony takes place on the Gaths (the river quays), attracting 3 million Indians every year for all around the world and 200,000 foreign tourists, mainly from Japan and Sri Lanka.
Westerners are not so numerous, I guess there was more of them in the 1970′, searching for spirituality in Benares, Katmandu and pot…

Hommes en jaune
All along its course, Hindus bathe in the Ganga waters, paying homage to their ancestors and to their gods by cupping the water in their hands, lifting it and letting it fall back into the river; they offer flowers and rose petals and float shallow clay dishes filled with oil and lit with wicks. On the journey back home from the Ganges, they carry small quantities of river water with them for use in rituals (Ganga jal, literally water of the Ganga). When a loved one dies, Hindus bring the ashes of the deceased person to the Ganges River.
Femmes jaunes et rouges

However, the best is to die in Varanasi, as it ensures release of a person’s soul from the infernal – and otherwise never-ending – cycle of its transmigrations. Thus, many Hindus arrive here for dying. And wait for it to happen.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-02 à 03.00.47

 

Then, you get cremated, and your ashes thrown in the river.
This ceremonial takes place on two different gaths, one for women, one for men.
Upstream, tons of wood are sold to the families. The richest buy sandalwood (bois de santal). Sometimes, there is not enough wood to turn the body into ashes completely, so it is not rare to find women’ hips and men’ sternums in the river…